Past Naval War College Presidents

From the time of its founder and first president, Rear Admiral Steven B. Luce in 1884, the U.S. Naval War College has been capably led to excel as the U.S. Navy's "Home of Thought." The vision and efforts of its storied presidents have ensured the college's place at the forefront of educating leaders, defining the future Navy, and informing decision making at the highest levels of government.

Cmdr. Ty Lemerande, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), portrays Rear Adm. Stephen B. Luce, first president of NWC and provides remarks at the 2021-2022 academic year convocation ceremonies, August 4, 2021.
Cmdr. Ty Lemerande, U.S. Naval War College (NWC), portrays Rear Adm. Stephen B. Luce, first president of NWC and provides remarks at the 2021-2022 academic year convocation ceremonies, August 4, 2021. The convocation ceremonies welcome joint service and international in-residence students at the U.S. Naval War College. (U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Gary Ross/released)
Margaret H. Sargent, 1990
Rear Admiral Ronald J. Kurth
Ronald J. Kurth
Rear Adm.
President August 11, 1987 - July 17, 1990

Ronald J. Kurth taught Russian at the U.S. Naval Academy, and earned a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Russian studies at Harvard University. As the forty-fifth president of the U.S. Naval War College, Rear Admiral Kurth testified before Congress concerning Professional Military Education and the application of the Goldwater-Nichols legislation, conceived the idea that led to the accreditation of the Naval War College to award a Master of Arts degree, and began the long-term effort to construct a new building.

Tony Sarro, 1987
Rear Admiral John A. Baldwin, Jr.
John A. Baldwin, Jr.
Rear Adm.
President September 02, 1986 - August 11, 1987

Before taking up his role as president, U.S. Naval War College, John A. Baldwin, Jr., had served in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy as Deputy Director of the Office of Program Appraisal and Director of the Systems Analysis Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. As the college's forty-fourth president, Rear Admiral Baldwin initiated the process that eventually led to the accreditation of the college for the granting of master’s degrees that would occur officially in 1991. He also established an Institute for Strategic Studies to facilitate the accreditation process and to serve as a device to secure and retain quality faculty.

Tony Sarro, 1986
Rear Admiral Ronald F. Marryott
Ronald F. Marryott
Rear Adm.
President August 08, 1985 - August 12, 1986

Ronald F. Marryott (1934 – 2005) was a U.S. Navy aviator who in the mid-1960s taught naval history and the history of U.S. foreign policy, American government and politics, and international relations at the U.S. Naval Academy. As the forty-third president of the Naval War College, he promoted the college’s role in formulating strategic ideas and refining concepts. On leaving the Naval War College, he was appointed Superintendent of the Naval Academy from 1986 to 1988. After his retirement from active duty in 1990, he became president and chief executive officer of the George C. Marshall Foundation, and then, president and chief executive of the Naval Academy Alumni Association, 1996 – 2000.

Margaret H. Sargent, 1986
Vice Admiral James E. Service
James E. Service
Vice Adm.
President October 14, 1982 - July 12, 1985

A naval aviator and test pilot, James E. Service had flown combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. A graduate of the U.S. Army War College, he had served as Commander, Battle Force, Sixth Fleet, and had been in that position when F-14 fighters from his battle force had shot down two Libyan aircraft during operations in the Gulf of Sidra. As the forty-second president of the U.S. Naval War College, Vice Admiral Service presided over the college’s centenary in 1984, which was marked with the reopening of an enlarged museum in Founders Hall, after a two-year renovation program, and the publication of Sailors and Scholars, a history of the institution’s first one hundred years.

George Sottung, 1982
Rear Admiral Edward F. Welch, Jr.
Edward F. Welch, Jr.
Rear Adm.
President August 22, 1979 - August 17, 1982

Born in Barrington, Rhode Island, Edward F. Welch (1925 – 2008) was a graduate of the National War College and former dean of academic affairs at that institution. From 1977 to 1979, he was deputy director of international negotiations on the Joint Staff with responsibility to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for arms control talks. As forty-first president of the U.S. Naval War College, he emphasized fleet operations in the curriculum and in war gaming. It was during his administration that global war gaming was begun. Welch also instituted a program, with the approval of the Chief of Naval Operations, for naval officer students to work for master’s degrees with area colleges and universities.

Margaret H. Sargent, 1979
Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale
James B. Stockdale
Vice Adm.
President October 13, 1977 - August 22, 1979

In 1965, James Bond Stockdale (1923 – 2005), commander of Carrier Air Wing 16, was shot down and taken prisoner in North Vietnam. Upon his release nearly eight years later, Stockdale was promoted to rear admiral and awarded the Medal of Honor for the valor and heroism of his leadership while the senior officer in prison camp. As the fortieth president of the U.S. Naval War College, Stockdale expanded the electives program to include courses on a wide variety of topics, some of which related indirectly or not at all to naval warfare and cognate themes. Stockdale taught, with Professor Joseph Brennan, a course on military ethics inspired by his own experiences as a prisoner of war.

Tony Sarro, 1977
Rear Admiral Huntington Hardisty
Huntington Hardisty
Rear Adm.
President April 01, 1977 - October 13, 1977

Huntington Hardisty (1929 – 2003) had been a U.S. Navy captain and the Dean of Academics under Vice Admiral Julien J. Le Bourgeois, 1976 – 1977. As a newly promoted flag officer, he succeeded Le Bourgeois in April 1977 as the U.S. Naval War College’s thirty-ninth president. His six-month tour is the shortest of all and characterized by a conscientious application to carrying on academic programs inaugurated by his predecessor. He later went on to serve as a four-star admiral as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, 1987 – 1988, and Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Command, 1988 – 1991.

Tony Sarro, 1976
Vice Admiral Julien J. Le Bourgeois
Julien J. Le Bourgeois
Vice Adm.
President August 09, 1974 - April 01, 1977

The focus of the administration of Vice Admiral Julien J. Le Bourgeois was the consolidation and refinement of the radical
changes in curriculum and organization that had been made during the previous administration. Admiral Le Bourgeois also initiated action with the Navy Department leading to the creation of a Center for Advanced Research in 1980. Noteworthy, too, was a project initiated in 1976 for a museum of naval warfare and the U.S. Navy’s regional history in the U.S. Naval War College’s original home, Founders Hall. The building had been Naval Station headquarters until 1974, when it reverted to the College.

Jeanne Bunkley, 1974
Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner
Stansfield Turner
Vice Adm.
President June 30, 1972 - August 09, 1974

Stansfield Turner (b. 1923) became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1972, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, a 1953 U.S. Naval War College graduate, sent Turner to Newport with a mission to radically change the college, providing it with a rigorous and challenging curriculum that would broaden officers’ outlooks beyond their narrow specialties and to give them the education to analyze problems effectively. In doing this, Turner built on his educational experiences and connections at Oxford to create the three-course curriculum that has existed since that time.

Tony Sarro, 1972
Vice Admiral Benedict J. Semmes, Jr.
Benedict J. Semmes, Jr.
Vice Adm.
President August 17, 1971 - June 30, 1972

Vice Admiral Benedict J. Semmes, Jr., came to the presidency of the U.S. Naval War College with thirteen years experience as a flag officer and many years in top-level Navy Department administration, having served as Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel and Commander, Second Fleet. He was no stranger to Newport, having served as commander of the Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Atlantic, 1963 – 1964, and during that time he lectured on more than one occasion at the Naval War College. During his tour as the College’s thirty-sixth president, the College shifted its emphasis away from foreign and international affairs to management concepts in keeping with the prevailing notions in Washington.